Marking 100 days to London 2012
By Jung Min-ho
With 100 days to go before the 2012 London Olympics, athletes around the world are preparing to prove they are the best.
Athletes from 205 nations are expected to compete for 302 gold medals in 36 sports from July 27 to Aug. 12 in London. Some will be pursuing their second Olympic medals.
Korean swimmer Park Tae-hwan will be looking to repeat his success in the 400-meter freestyle. Four years ago, the 22-year-old won the title in 3 minutes 41.86 seconds to beat Zhang Lin of China and Larsen Jensen of the United States who finished in 3:42.44 and 3:42.78 respectively. With that feat, he became the first Asian Olympian to win a swimming gold; and he has been training intensely with his coach Michael Ball in Australia, and also in Korea, to show that he can again be number one on the global stage.
Lee Yong-dae, defending champion in the badminton mixed doubles, is another Korean athlete in pursuit of a second title. Since winning gold in Beijing Lee has shown steady performances and added a number of medals at international competitions. With his partner Jung Jae-sung, the 24-year-old Korean is expected to keep his eye tightly focused on that second gold.
“Korean weightlifters Jang Mi-ran, 29, and Sa Jae-hyouk, 28, are confident of second successes. Despite serious injury setbacks, Jang has recovered quickly as she seeks to top the podium at a second consecutive Games.
“Reducing the chance of making a mistake is more important than intense training by repeating moves in practice at this point. I am making my best efforts in training, knowing that some athletes from Russia and China have a good record,” Jang said in a recent interview.
Im Dong-hyun in archery and Jin Jong-oh in the 50-meter pistol are also aiming for second golds. Im set a world record in Bejing four years ago. Jin set the best Asian mark at the ISSF World Cup Changwon in 2009. Jin’s main rival is expected to be Kim Jong-su of North Korea.
“My condition has improved and I am confident that I can improve on my record. I’m just a little concerned about injury,” Sa said at a recent media interview. “My goal is to earn another gold medal.”
In taekwondo, Cha Dong-min and Hwang Kyung-seon are again on the medal hunt. Having earned their tickets to London, they are practicing hard to try and repeat their success at the Beijing Olympics.
The writer is an intern for The Korea Times.